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For the Love of Sweet William

by bewleybooks 

Posted: 27 August 2015
Word Count: 5051
Summary: 'For the Love of Sweet William' is a romantic fictional tale about Heather who creates a dream-boat boyfriend in order to escape the reality she actually lives - until she’s forced to acknowledge it. This is Chapter 1.

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For the Love of Sweet William
Kaye Bewley
Copyright © 2015 Kaye Bewley
The right of Kaye Bewley to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published by BewleyBooks.com in 2015.
All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchase.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
ISBN: 978-1-909426-13-9
Published in Great Britain by
“DB?  What’s that?  A nickname?”  Michael asked as he peeked over my shoulder at the desktop display of William Berry.  It had the words ‘DB’ in italicised script beside his image.  I had written it.  Once, one day, when I had been dreaming about us getting married. 

Michael had just come from the store room which was inconveniently located behind my desk.  Ted had been measuring him up for his flak jacket ready for his short stint in Syria, gathering newsworthy stories for the BBC.  By the look of Ted’s flushed face, he had positively enjoyed the experience.  That, in itself, wasn’t so difficult, as it was an open secret that Ted liked the blue-eyed blondes, a role which Michael filled perfectly for him.

“Dream Boat.” Ted quickly supplied the information. “It stands for Dream Boat.  She’s had a crush on William Berry since she arrived here.  It’s about time she changed direction, if you ask me.”

Michael took no notice of Ted’s attempt to impress. 

“Your Dream Boat, eh?”

“He is rather, well, dreamy.”  I replied, honestly.

“Dreamy?”  Ted was nonchalant in his opinion, but I knew him better than to be the bitter person he portrayed.  “Honestly, you’d think you were still living in the 70s, the way you go on.” 

As usual, Ted attempted to embarrass me.  But I wouldn’t take it lying down.  “It’s a dream, Ted.  Get over it.”
He glared at me.  “A woman with dreams needs a man with vision.”  Ted put his finger to his mouth and pouted.
“I think you’ll find it’s the other way around.” Michael supported me. 

“Besides,” Ted replied, “He’s a bit out of your league.” 

Ted said this with a hint of a tease in a feeble attempt to impress Michael.  Again.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Michael responded with a wink and a wide knowing smile at me. 

Ted peered over my other shoulder, and joined us to stare at my screensaver.  Even though I knew he was playing, Ted was right.  I wasn’t in my Dream Boat’s league.  It was just unfortunate that William Berry was my Dream Boat.  It was because of Dick, another toiler in our H&S News department, that I had abbreviated him to DB.  That seemed to be the way of things with Dick.  He would talk with acronyms if he could.  Being a military man before he worked with us explained a lot.  As though that explained everything.  But that’s beside the point.  I’ve an interest in the origins of words, but don’t know where in the world ‘dream boat’ came from.  Ted had said it was a song in the 1950s.  But, when you broke it down, it made no sense at all. 

Come to think of it, abbreviations would probably make no sense a century down the line.  Or maybe even one year down the line at the rate the English dictionary adds new words.  If we weren’t careful, in a thousand years’ time, what with texting and everything, our language could possibly represent something similar to what the Egyptian hieroglyphics of two thousand years ago mean to us today.  Symbols that only a few can understand and will remain a mystery to our future’s children. 

There I was.  Off in my dream world again.  My mum always told me to “Stop yer dreaming there, ma wee Heather!  No good wi’ come ‘o it!”  I loved her beautiful Scottish lilt, though I could never master it myself.  Dad, an Englishman, had fallen in love with her in Edinburgh, at the Festival. 

“My claim to fame …” she would say excitedly, with more than a bit of a sparkle in her eye, was that she had a “wee one liner in a Chekhov play, ‘Uncle Vanya’.  She told me she would recite “It’s no’ proper!” when the young actor attempted to do his part by kissing her at every opportunity.  In reality, and to dad’s good fortune, mum didn’t mind the young lad’s rehearsed advances because he was gay and never fancied her anyway. 

Dad had seen this illusive pretty lady up there on stage, the lights haloing her head, while being pursued by this handsome chap and had lost his heart to her.  He had scuttled around back to meet her, and then when his attempt failed, he lingered about the Stage Door after the show.  He spotted her as she exited and nipped her elbow.  His eyes smiled into hers “Would you think it,” he hesitated, “not proper, for me to ask you out on a date?” 

“Would I mind?” she told me she had said, “Did you no ken the play?”  She would often smile at him when she told me his response.  “He said, ‘Yes, my dear.  I understood it.  Which is why I’m not wasting any time to get what I want.’  You cannae tell what folk are gannae feel when they fall headlong for each other - English or no!” 
She constantly reminded me of the sentiment throughout my life, for as long as she had lived.  And I couldn’t tell why I had fallen for William Berry the way I had.  Anyway, a dream, he was.  Most certainly.  In my eyes.  And a million and one other women too.  But, definitely not blonde, nor blue-eyed.  And I should know because his face, his body, his voice would go round and round and round my mind, until life rudely interrupted me back to the now.

“When are you for the off?”  Ted asked Michael with a hint of forlornness in his voice.  He didn’t try to hide it, though Michael, I swear, tried to ignore it.

“Tomorrow.” He nodded politely, “Early.”

“That’s a terrible shame.  You be careful out there.  We’ve had quite a few incidents of late, no one dead yet,” he laughed, “but I sincerely wish no harm to come to you.”

Michael looked back and forth from Ted to me.  He looked nervous, which was not what you wanted to be before embarking on the road to Syria.  Even if it was only to report the news, harrowing though it had been of late.  Ted had packed Michael’s flak-jacket neatly in a beautiful navy bag, one of the special ones he reserved only for his favourites.  He had designed it himself.  Then he pressed it against Michael’s big chest and lingered just a little bit too long which, as soon as he noticed, he abruptly stopped with a firm pat, then ushered him out of my untidy office.

“Go get Greta and get me a ticket for the ‘Cloud 9’ premier.”

It was my boss.  She shrieked when she was grumpy, which was nearly always, and it was always an octave or two higher than her voice could comfortably manage. 

Luckily, I knew who she meant.  As Executive Assistant, Greta worked for one of the big wigs that buy in all the future programmes that you watch during the holiday seasons throughout the year.  Her boss was Accounts Secretary to the Assistant Director of the Acquisitions Department.  The Beeb have lots of assisting positions assisting assistants.  In reality, it’s easy once you’ve been there a while as you get to know the ropes and how to swing between them, almost like Tarzan’s Jane, if you’re lucky.  Come to think of it, Tarzan’s Jane never actually swung between the ropes.  But that’s beside the point.

So, after I had waved goodbye to Michael, off I toddled to the Acquisitions Department.  Used to my own boss’s multitude of moods, I presumed every boss was the same and edged my head carefully round her door.  There was an uneasy sense about me that it might get shot at and explode in a colourful splodge against the wall.  Colourful for other people to see, of course.  Not me.  I’d be dead and seeing it from a different perspective.  Hence, I was relieved when Greta waved me in with a wonderfully wide smile.  With another wave of her elegant hand, she indicated I sit in one of her comfy armchairs neatly positioned at an angle in the corner of her large office. 

She was gaily going about her duty, putting forward proposals to buy in the rights to the latest blockbuster that would generate outstanding viewing figures for ‘Aunty’.  With two phones to her ears (a swanky headset and an old landline) and someone speaking on speaker-phone from a box on the desk, as well as two people on that Google video chat thingiemabob (I never know what it’s called.  They should abbreviate it).  I didn’t know how she coped.  But cope she did.

As she spoke to her numerous callers, I gazed around her room.  Grey-blue flecked paper-lined the walls and light oak cabinets with glass shelves and shiny silver hinges stood to attention against them.  Charcoal black leather chairs hugged by the same oak invited visitors to sample their comforting but business-like embrace.  An elegant glass vase of bright orange dahlias sprouted proudly in the middle of it all.  You’d think with all the work she was managing she would have a haphazard office.  But no.  It was the epitome of neatness.  Every file stood orderly on the shelves and every piece of paper was clipped neatly with a yellow sticky note attached.  Each sheet lay in grey trays awaiting her careful inspection.  Impressive. 

With a name like Greta, anyone who hadn’t met her would get the idea she was a blonde, blue-eyed Scandinavian.  She was anything but.  Her dark honey skin and wild mop of black curly hair framed two big saucer-shaped chocolate eyes up for show.  With her big-boned frame, she looked strong and kind.  The kind you’d trust with your baby.  She even had some kind of glowing halo about her.  Weird.  You’d have to take a second glance just to see that you weren’t going mad and to see that it was only the window light from behind, but it was there.  Just.

“Yes, yes.”  I listened to Greta as she spoke to a famous female voice, “Of course.  I can get someone to escort you this evening.  He knows London very well.  He’s interesting and discreet, and you’ll enjoy his company.”

As she clicked off the computer and replaced her many receivers one by one, she sighed, smiled, turned to face me and gave her full attention.

It was definitely the window light.

“It’s better for them to be accompanied by someone who knows their way around.”  She said by way of explanation.

“None of my business.”  I answered. 

She smiled.  She obviously approved.

“So, can I do something for you, my dear?”  A sexy Jamaican drawl drooled from her gorgeous big lips.

“My boss wanted two tickets for the ‘Cloud 9’ premier.  Is it possible?”

“Oh.” her brows creased ever so slightly, “Unfortunately, no.  But,” she began scanning her long list of invited guests, “who’s your boss?”

My mind asked ‘Why?  Should that make a difference?’ but my voice replied, “Ms. Fluck-Egglinton-Darling.” 

It rolled off my tongue like it was an everyday word.  Not some assault course for the mind.  Oddly enough the usual grimace which usually greeted me when I had said the name didn’t materialise. 

“She’s particular about the title.  Doesn’t advertise the ‘solo’ version if you get my meaning.  And the hyphens.  They are very important.”  Then added for good measure, just to make sure she knew who she was about to deal with, “She is Assistant Secretary Director to the Assistant Deputy Director in the News Room.  Health & Safety.” 

Used to the convoluted hierarchy in the organisation, Greta wasn’t fazed by the business titles supplied.  But she did quiz me, nonetheless.

“I think I may have met her,” She thought about it for a bit, “or have I?  The name tinkles in my ear.”

Tinkles in her ear? I was surprised and said as much, “You’re lucky.  It rings like a gong in mine.”

“You shouldn’t say things like that.” She smiled and her words seemed wrapped in smooth silk.

“If you haven’t met her, you’re blessed.  Believe me.  Her TUDs affectionately abbreviated her name to The FED.  If that helps.”


“Team of Underling Dogs.  She called us that once, dogs, not underlings.  We added that.  We wanted to add the word ‘Rated’ too, between the U and the D, but believed ourselves to be better than that.”

“Still.” Greta wrinkled her nose at the thought, “She is your boss.  And you do work for her department.”

It was a reasonable assumption.  The former was a fact, but her TUDs knew the latter to be otherwise.  We worked not for her department, but for her personal whims.  And they had nothing to do with the News Room’s H&S requirements.

“Oh, no.  Really.  It’s nothing to worry about.  She is aware.  Of the title we’ve assigned her, it’s her initials after all, so nothing bad.  In fact, she thinks it’s cool.  And she assigned us the TUD name.  In fact, she’s quite pleased and goes around telling everyone about them.”

I could have sworn I caught a wicked glint in her eye, “Nevertheless, you never know who knows who, or who’s listening.”

I swung round ready to attack the doorframe.  It was empty. 

“I am intrigued.”  Greta continued.  “Why does the News Room need film premier tickets?  We’ve got all the reporters we need attending.  And, you did say the Health and Safety department, didn’t you?”

For the briefest of seconds that seemed like an age, I stared at Greta.  What the hell was I supposed to say?  I mean, why did the Health & Safety department, whose main role was to dole out flak-jackets to journalists in war zones, need a ticket to a William Berry film premier?  What were we going to do?  Send a special invite to William Berry to sample the delights of the daily lives of Syrian refugees?  Or, I could chance it and tell her the truth.  That my boss was a spoiled bitch who got everything she wanted.  And that she wanted the privilege of being seated next to William Berry at the after-film premier dinner (and party).  That she wanted to weave her web of ugly spells and enchant and entrance him with her Witchy whiles because she fancied the pants off him.  Much to my utter dismay.
In this instance, the truth would most certainly not do.

“The FED wants to meet him to discuss a possible interview for the News Feature Spot she’s planning.”  I knew this to be true and continued, “she thinks meeting him informally at the after-film premier dinner – and party too – she might just clinch the deal.”

“Don’t tell me, in a war zone, dressed in a flak-jacket?” Greta almost laughed, but stopped herself.

“She thinks because our department supplied the jacket to him, she might just get an in.”

“But ‘Cloud 9’ is a love story.”

“With guns.” I asserted.

“To shoot ducks.”

“Well, people do wear flak-jackets to shoot ducks.” I defended myself, not unreasonably, I thought.

“Not in a fairground.”

If she questioned me further, then I would have been stuck.  I was at a loss for words.  Perhaps I could tell her the truth.  Perhaps she would understand.  Perhaps …

“So, she wants party tickets, too, does she?”  Greta paused as though giving it some extra deep thought.  Then she asked, “What about you?”

“What do you mean?” I was genuinely puzzled, “What about me?”

“Are you going along with her?”

“Me?” I was astounded that she would even ask the question, “Of course not!” I almost snorted, “I’m one of those who gets to look up at the stars and yearn.  I never get to actually meet them!  Chance would be a fine thing.”

“And is there a particular star you yearn for?”

Her voice was kind of kind.  Thoughtful.  Deep.  It had a hint of a tease in there too.  The sound of it made me want to sit down beside her and tell her every painful detail of my little life that had ever made me sad.  And there was an awful lot of it that had made me very sad.  But there was a lot of it I preferred to forget.  So I thought better of it, drew in a deep breath and threw my cards down so they fell where they may.

“A DB.”

She didn’t have to say anything because her face said it all.

“Dream Boat.  He’s my dreamboat.  William Berry, I mean.”  I said more matter-of-factly than I actually aimed for.  For the life of me, I can’t remember why I said it.  “Always have done.” Embarrassingly, I continued to ramble on.  Couldn’t stop myself.  “Always will.  But I know I’d be punching above my weight ‘cos he’s not for the likes of me,” I tried to chuckle, but it came out as a snort again, “and before you say anything, I most certainly understand that.  Oh, yes to be sure, I do.  So, I’m the type that gets tickets for others while I continue in my own sad, mad, bad world, forever yearning.  Silly really.  Never mind.  Not to worry.” 

I really didn’t know how to stop at this stage, so paused and breathed deeply.  Then a long awkward silence edged its way between us. 

“Yes, that’s who I yearn for.  So, if he wants a tour of the British Museum at any point, I’m a font of knowledge on the subject!  And I’m discreet, too.” I finished my answer to Greta.  “But, I know it’s never going to happen.  So, I stick to making dreams come true for other people.  Like my boss.”

I knew I was rambling.  For some reason it didn’t matter.  I didn’t really care if my boss got tickets to see and sit and sing sweet nothings with my DB.  I knew events like that never happened to girl’s like me.  Especially not me.  So, somewhere along the line, I had just accepted it.  Accepted the fact that there would always be people like The FED who got everything they wanted and people like me, a tired old TUD, who didn’t.

“So, is it possible?  Because I can tell her that it’s not.  She’ll probably rant and rave and call me all things under the sun, and throw a few choice objects my way.  Not my choice you understand.  But you know what, I don’t give a flying ...”

Greta’s eyes opened wide.  “O, K.” she said slowly, deliberately. 

Obviously, I had said way too much.

“Can you give me your number?”

“Why?”  I asked.  Stupidly.

“So I can phone you.  If it’s possible.”

“If what’s possible?”  Stupider.

“The ticket.  For your boss.  To the film premier.”

“Oh.  Right.  Ok.  Thanks.”  Stupid.

“I don’t know about the after-dinner party though.  That might prove more difficult.  But we’ll see.”

Awkwardly, I handed her The FEDs card, turned on my flat heel and left, grateful to escape the confessional room.  It was odd the way Greta made all my thoughts bubble up to the surface like that. 

When I got back to my office, I slumped down behind my desk.  My office didn’t resemble anything remotely like Greta’s.  In fact, it had only just begun to dawn on me that it was the complete opposite.  Cramped, confined and haphazardly disorganised.  Man-made metal cabinets that didn’t close properly.  I got them from the Beeb’s bargain basement where they threw all the kit in ready for throwing away.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, blue nylon carpets that had seen much better days. 

The papers on my desk were long unfiled, three bins overflowed and the two filing cabinets had draws stuffed to bursting point.  My trays were labelled: ‘Ditch’, ‘Do’, ‘Delegate’ and ‘Done’ and each were overstuffed.  The organised mind I had at the beginning of my job was most certainly not the mind I had at the end of it.  I felt drained as I looked at it all.  As I did, the tiniest tinge of guilt began to seep into my gut. 


Why guilt?

At some point, I had thought that the mess I had created represented the state of my overburdened mind.  But I threw that thought out when I realised I was going way beyond the call of duty for a woman I couldn’t even like, let alone respect.  Which is what you’re supposed to do for your boss.  Respect them.  But then you’re supposed to earn respect and my boss, The FED, hadn’t earned my respect.  Nor anyone else’s for that matter.

She was an English country woman whose father had spoiled her rotten from her very first breath.  She had married and divorced, twice, and lived off the extremely well stocked bank balances her two husband’s (both retired American Army Generals) had been forced to give her in settlement by a solicitor friend of the family.  She had no need to work.  She didn’t work.  She just turned up, doled out orders and swanned off fanning the fading lights of B-list celebrities with low-self-esteem.  Those that couldn’t see her for what she was, so blinded were they by the flattery she lay thickly upon them.

Her ‘work’ had nothing to do with the News Room we toiled in.  The FED had this uncanny ability to make others who were ‘above’ her feel so much bigger and more important than they were.  Those who were ‘under’ her, particularly her TUDs, got way more than they bargained for.  They got to witness the FED, the real one.  The ‘behind the scenes’ scatty, ditsy strawberry blonde that she did so well to hide.  She would be nothing without her TUDs, but she didn’t care about that.  She had position and money and with that came the power that gave her the confidence to treat others like they were the nothing she didn’t even entertain the idea she was.

My office represented the only ability I had to rebel against her.  If she treated me like something she would scrape off the bottom of her shoe, then I would act like the something she had stepped in and people would see I was that, simply by entering into my domain.  But I didn’t give her the excuse she needed to give me the boot.  I kept up with her disastrously tight and chaotic and changeable time-table.  I produced the reports and agendas and letters she demanded months before schedule, which she altered immediately before the deadline.  I poured the tea and coffee and water and juice and served the sandwiches and cakes and profiteroles to her many and varied clientele. 

Thoughts about why situations like this happened in life, to people like me, had regularly passed through my mind.  Sat alone at home, night after night, because I didn’t earn enough money to actually, you know, have a life.  The life I was supposed to be working all those long, tedious hours for.  As you do.  By the time I’d paid my gas bill, water bill, electric bill, mobile and telephone bill, internet bill, council tax bill, mortgage bill, insurance for buildings bill, contents and my precious life bills, bought food and fluids, clothes and cosmetics there was barely enough money to buy the train ticket needed to get me to the job that paid for it all in the first place.  Thank God I never had a car as there was not even enough left in the pot for special pleasures like having my hair cut. Which, if anyone ever asked, was why it was so darned long. 

And it wasn’t like I over-spent.  I didn’t.  I had been trained by my dad to live within my means.  But my sister and I had stupidly bought a flat just before the recession hit and what with interest rates the way they were, we only just managed to cling on to the edge of the cliff and had never quite managed to scramble out of the debt that wasn’t of our own making.  Given that jacket potatoes had been our staple diet during the time of 15% interest rates on mortgages, we thought we did pretty well as single working, 40+ year old women who had never qualified for, let alone asked for, any government hand-outs.  Together, we were just about able to hang in there.  And then she went and died.

Because I felt I didn’t have any control over any of the disastrous events that had happened around me, I put it all down to fate.  For a long while, I had contemplated dad’s ideas, whether it was about birth, death or spiritual choices.  Reincarnation seemed a fanciful idea to me.  I mean, he believed that soul’s chose which lives they wanted to live, but what soul would choose to live in a stupid, mean existence like mine? 

Born into frustration and irritation and endless vexation.  Exasperated at the continually wrong choices, missed opportunities, wrong paths that were taken and ultimate dissatisfaction with the way life had turned out.  Especially if that soul had a choice from nearly 8 billion other lives to live?  Granted, I could understand why the soul that chose to inhabit my (slightly) overweight body wouldn’t want to be suffering genocide in Africa, or trapped on a boat off the shores of Australia, or stoned to death in Asia or even homeless in America … working in the news room entitled me to previews of people’s lives that never made it to the screen.  But to live this life, with no meaning and no purpose to it? 

A few years before dad died, he had said that a soul returns to learn lessons.  To improve. 

“If you don’t learn your lessons in this life, you’ll only come back to learn ‘em again.”  He had said, while he sounded almost like mum. 

What was my lesson, dad?  What was my message?   What had my soul wanted to learn?  Or was it all just some sick joke?  The sick jokes seemed to be all around me.  I felt like I had, for a long time, been an observer of my life, rather than a participant of it.  No wonder only one thing gave me that small sign of hope.  And that one thing was in the form of DB.  In his films he portrayed this gallant hero that saves the girl and the world.  Day dreaming about him gave me the incentive to take an interest in all that happened around me.  The hope that maybe one day, I would meet him and he wouldn’t dismiss me with the briefest of glances.  He would actually take the time to, well, save me.

I got most perplexed when I read that the papers were dissing him.  After his rise to the top in one massive sci-fi adventure that influenced the way people saw the way the world worked, flop after flop had followed him around.  But, it still didn’t seem fair he could go from ‘hunk to chunk’ and not only keep his thousands of adoring fans, but draw in a million more who could empathise with his predicament.  And that people like me who looked more like Alison German (before her diet), on a bad day than  Gina Neeta-Jones (before her depression), on a good day, merged into the masses waving to the tiny figure of the Queen on her balcony at Buckingham on her Jubilee Day.  If I’m honest, there’s absolutely no way I’d ever have a hope in hell of catching the eye of DB.  Not one tiniest scrap or glimmer of a chance would be granted to someone like me.

Besides, I had often thought to myself, even if I did happen to meet him and against all odds, he happened to notice me and even, miracle of miracles, fall in love with me, it most certainly wouldn’t be wise.  To allow myself to even tentatively broach the subject of ‘falling’ for someone like him - I would be mad.  In fact, nothing less than a total idiot. 

But, what if I was an idiot?  What if, say, the scenario panned out that he did, fall for me, and I did, fall for him, and horror of all horrors he left me.  I’d be totally up shit creek without a bloody paddle.  Perhaps I’d even find myself in the gruesome nightmare, tumbling around out of control in the rapids which would eventually hurl me over the edge of the gushing waterfall.  As bad dreams always do.  In fact, think of something worse than that.  Think of the Prince and Princess of Wales.  Or, Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt.  I mean, the poor women.  My heart totally bled dry for them.  To have loved and lost to someone who’s equally famous and, worse, to be reminded of it every dammed day of your life.  How utterly, utterly awful.


Not a good idea.

Absolutely not.

Best stick with my anonymity.  To my non-existence.  To my tv dinners with repeats of Jeremy Kyle that show me life can be more awful than I want to admit.  Best to keep to a life that is bearable, that can be controlled, even if that means I can’t/won’t/don’t experience anything even remotely resembling any glimpse of hope that I might have held in my heart sometime way back when.

Best to keep the world I’m in. 


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Comments by other Members

Jennifer1976 at 07:02 on 15 September 2015  Report this post
I've reported the above comment on Kaye's work for spam, so hopefully it'll disappear soon. smiley

Just noticed though, Kaye, that you've posted the work in the archive, so not many people will find it. If you repost this in Intensive Critique or Women's Fiction, hopefully you'll get some more helpful comments than the one above. I'd be happy to have a read.

All the best,

Jenny smiley

James Graham at 18:59 on 19 September 2015  Report this post
I have to say I’ve been reluctant at first to read this chapter as it didn’t look like the kind of story I’d be interested in. But I’ve now read it through and enjoyed it. Got into it pretty early in the chapter. I’ll post a comment soon.


Jennifer1976 at 19:22 on 20 September 2015  Report this post
Hi Kaye,

Thanks for posting this. I was a little apprehensive to start with as it seemed rather long, but I must admit when I started reading it didn't seem all that long at all.

Anyway, I enjoyed this. I thought that Heather was a well-written character, and I really got a sense of her voice as I read it - very readable and easy to like. I liked how you weaved in just a little bit about her background, with her parents meeting and a little about her sister. It made me feel grounded in the story. I'm also a big fan of stories written in the first person.

I also got a real sense of Greta in the chapter - a complex-seeming character who I'm sure will feature more. And I felt you've given the reader a good sense of scene. I really could see the office in my mind. I enjoyed all the D words in the filing system - little throwaway bits like that really brought the story and Heather to life.

If I had any criticism, it would from a technical stance, e.g. taking a closer look at the dialogue, and making sure you've got the commas and full-stops in the right places, but this is something you'd pick up on during the edit anyway, so a fairly minor point and easily fixed.

All in all, this first chapter left me wanting to read more, and definitely shows promise.

Hope you find my comments useful.

All the best,


bewleybooks at 20:09 on 20 September 2015  Report this post
Thank you James and Jenny.  I shall give it another read through taking into consideration your comments.  The story is complete, but wanted some much needed feedback and a sense of how others might receive it.

James Graham at 20:33 on 21 September 2015  Report this post
Hello Kaye – Here’s my comment at last, as promised. I’m not a fiction writer and certainly not an expert, so this is just an ordinary reader’s response.

What got me into this story was first of all the characters, especially Heather of course but also Greta. The narrator’s character comes across mainly, I think, from the revelations you give us of her inner life more than from her words and actions. Through this inner life I felt as the chapter went on that I was getting to know her better: at first she seems up-beat, positive, telling us about her Dream Boat and her parents, but later she reveals how pointless her life (which is no life at all) really is, and I begin to sympathise with her. Once sympathy is established, readers generally are hooked and want to read on and discover how things turn out for the protagonist.

You give her quite an engaging sense of humour too. One example among many -  entering Greta’s office:
There was an uneasy sense about me that it might get shot at and explode in a colourful splodge against the wall.  Colourful for other people to see, of course.  Not me.  I’d be dead and seeing it from a different perspective.  Hence, I was relieved when Greta waved me in with a wonderfully wide smile.

From my own reading, I would say that if a main character has no sense of humour readers are less likely to identify with him/her. This applies even to a novel which is much more grim and tragic than yours appears to be.

Greta comes across through her manner, facial expressions and her obvious talent for connecting to other people. The ‘halo’ is a very nice touch – it helps bring her to life, as well as contrasting her with the FED in quite a subtle way.

One passage leapt off the page:
[Dad] believed that souls chose which lives they wanted to live, but what soul would choose to live in a stupid, mean existence like mine? 

Born into frustration and irritation and endless vexation.  Exasperated at the continually wrong choices, missed opportunities, wrong paths that were taken and ultimate dissatisfaction with the way life had turned out.  Especially if that soul had a choice from nearly 8 billion other lives to live?  Granted, I could understand why the soul that chose to inhabit my (slightly) overweight body wouldn’t want to be suffering genocide in Africa, or trapped on a boat off the shores of Australia, or stoned to death in Asia or even homeless in America … working in the news room entitled me to previews of people’s lives that never made it to the screen.  But to live this life, with no meaning and no purpose to it?
I suppose to most people this would be a very fanciful notion, but for me it’s the best insight into Heather’s inner life. She doesn’t believe it either, but it helps her to articulate her situation in life – and helps the reader to understand it.

There’s a passage which strikes me as capable of improvement, but since the novel is already published presumably you can’t make changes now. I’m referring to the paragraphs from ‘Guilt?’ to ‘And then she went and died’. This is where we learn most about the main character, and as I said before, where sympathy is established. But the immediacy of the office and the narrative element of the chapter is suspended. For me it seems better to keep some sort of narrative going alongside Heather’s inner thoughts. She goes over all these things in her mind while doing something.This long passage of self-revelation could be put into a framework of office tasks. To begin with, she slumps behind her desk. But maybe then she gets up and sets about a task – half-heartedly, to be sure – while thinking about these things. Very brief indications of what she is doing could be interspersed with the other paragraphs. After ‘And then she went and died’ you could have something like ‘I dumped the sheaf of papers and slumped again’.

Well, at least you know that a reader who normally wouldn’t read this kind of novel enjoyed your first chapter!


PS. ‘Dream Boat’ – I’m sure you know it’s from a song written in the 1930s: ‘When my dreamboat comes home’. The lyrics are, well, ordinary, but the image isn’t bad: a young girl dreams that a boat will arrive one day and her ideal man will step ashore. It’s been sung by Bing Crosby and Cliff Richard, but outstandingly by Fats Domino, who could make any song sound great.

Or maybe this is the original Dream Boat – not arriving but leaving:
A ship is floating in the harbour now,
A wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;
There is a path on the sea's azure floor,             
No keel has ever ploughed that path before;
The halcyons brood around the foamless isles;
The treacherous Ocean has forsworn its wiles;
The merry mariners are bold and free:
Say, my heart's sister, wilt thou sail with me?

Shelley - a few lines from his long poem Epipsychidion. Romantic in every sense, and very eloquent.

(This is what I do sometimes - put in an irrelevant PS. Starting with the phrase 'Dream Boat' this is where I ended up!)

bewleybooks at 19:10 on 22 September 2015  Report this post
Thank you James, I have read your other postings on other work and was trembling in anticipation of your recommendations.  However, I was pleasantly surprised and, yes, I am able to work in some changes.  It has been published on Kindle first - specifically so that I can iron out any rough spots.  It will be going into print at Christmas which isn't long away.  So, thank you for your recommendations for change and the wonderfully stamp of approval you seem to have given my first chapter.

James Graham at 11:12 on 01 October 2015  Report this post
Hi Kaye - I didn't know that about Kindle, that you can publish that way first and make changes if necessary. I wish you success with the book - I hope it does well!


bewleybooks at 18:24 on 06 October 2015  Report this post
James, Kindle allows you to continually update.  I've had some good kind people point out errors or typos here and there in all my books.  As soon as I route them out, I simply update the Kindle edition.  This way, I find, that if I publish on Kindle first, then publish in paperback a couple of months later - I get a pristine hard copy ready for print production.  Also, al those that have been kind enough to highlight the changes needed have been put in a 'hat' ready to win a hard copy of the book when it's published!  So, this is a way to say thanks to my readers and provides a win-win situation.

James Graham at 20:35 on 06 October 2015  Report this post
Kaye, it's very thoughtful of you to have that 'prize draw'! As to publishing on Kindle first and making corrections,it might be worth posting an explanation of how this is done in the fiction group forums. I see you're a member of most of them. I may be behind the times and maybe other fiction group members know all about this, but maybe not all? It would be useful to anyone looking to publish.


bewleybooks at 09:55 on 10 October 2015  Report this post
That's a good idea, how would you recommend I do that?  By way of an article?  I could do one on LinkedIn and let everyone in the group know of it.

By the way, I am offering my fiction novel 'For the Love of Sweet William' for FREE on Amazon - this weekend only.  This might be a bit cheeky, but, would you do a lovely thing for me?  Download the book for free and post a review?  Apparently, Amazon considers reviews from those who 'buy' the book better considered than those who just post a review without buying.  If you haven't the time, I perfectly understand.  If it helps, you could just cut and paste your comments above and that would be terrific. 
Also, anyone who does me the kindness of taking the time to post a review gets their name put in the hat for a freebie ... The one I'm running at the moment is on the discounted 'Slippery Frog or Faithful Dog - which do you wanna kiss?' book.  It's a fun little 'relationship' book for girls to get the best out of guys, from my psychology box of tricks. If you post a review you get your name put into the hat for a freebie of it's follow-up 'Ugly Witch or Beautiful Bitch - which do you wanna kiss?'  (the guys version about girls).
Reviews on Amazon help to get the work sold.  Meanwhile, I'll rattle something up about the Kindle thing for viewers on writewords.
Any help appreciated.
ps you can find the details for both on my web site bewleybooks.com

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